View Full Version : Preparing for Collodion in a Standard Field Camera

04-11-2011, 03:11 PM
Hi all,

I've been flirting with the idea of collodion for a long time now and its becoming a more attractive idea everyday. I'd really love to be doing Daguerreotype but so far I don't have the resources to learn the process.

Anyway, at this point I would plan to do collodion in a standard field camera with modified film holders. My concern is how to protect the camera from damage by the chemistry, particularly silver nitrate. Ideally I'd just have a wet plate back and holder made but thats just not an option at the moment. I apologize if this has already been answered (I feel like it has to be somewhere) but I can't find it.

I'm hoping that some of you experienced wet platers produce your plates this way and can talk to me about potential damage to the camera and how to prevent it. My camera is an 8x10 Deardorff field camera. I will do 5x7, 8x10, and 11x14 plates (I built an expansion back). Is there a way to completely protect the camera from the effects of the chemistry? If damage is inevitable I'll have to rethink the whole thing or save up for a wet plate back.

Thanks for the help!

Barry S
04-11-2011, 03:26 PM
I haven't found much of a problem with damage to cameras from shooting wet plates other than a few small silver spots on the inside of the 8x10 back on my Century studio camera. I'm careful to wipe the backs of my plates after they come out of the silver bath, so they're less likely to drip and that seems to take care of 99% of the problems. Coat the inside of your back with several coats of satin varnish to protect the wood, and wipe everything off at the end of a session.

04-13-2011, 01:06 PM
I've used film cameras (2Ds, Seneca, Rochester Optical, etc.) exclusively for wetplate and have shot hundreds of plates. I've found no damage in any camera. The film holders will get black if you don't varnish or wax them...that's all. Enjoy the journey.

04-13-2011, 05:41 PM
Well thats refreshing. I guess its less of an issue then I thought it would be. I'd heard horror stories of silver nitrate eating cameras. I guess that only happens if you spill it all over the place and never bother to clean anything. Thanks for the insight everyone :)